A New Career (Paris Groups 1944, Pt XIV, Friday 28 January)

There follows a rather strange entry: “Mr Gurdjieff jokes with the doctor and tells him the story of Beelzebub and the young officers of a Russian garrison, who bought champagne when they could not afford vodka, because, in the mess, champagne could be obtained on credit.” (70-71) This story does not appear in Beelzebub’s Tales, further, it sounds like Gurdjieff was probably the original of Beelzebub in this anecdote.

After dinner, there was an exchange with Lacaze. The translation in the Transcripts volume is good. Lacaze found that a unique feeling of himself came when he was in life, and he wanted to keep that state, but couldn’t. Gurdjieff replied not to mix work and life: in life you play a role, you shake hands using the right hand, without needing to think about it (70). I do not see how this can be answer unless Gurdjieff was telling him to only be concerned about that sense of himself when he was alone, in a contemplative state.

Then Zuber said that he wanted a method to feel remorse. Gurdjieff replied:

Think of all the actions of your life, all those moments when you have not been as you should have been. Remember them, and at the same time feel remorse. (71-72)

Again, I feel something has been left out in this very terse transcript. I suggest the last sentence might have been something like “Remember them, and at the same time, open to the feeling of remorse.” Eventually, of course, if I am remembering myself, and am open, the feeling of remorse will come – it is lawful.

The final question in this session was from Madame Solange Claustres. The translation in the transcripts book is accurate. She said that she had had stronger feelings of remorse before she was in the work, but now her remorse was more intellectual. She is still judging her actions, but does not feel as she used to. Gurdjieff replied:

It’s very simple. Beforehand, you used to make a mouse out of an elephant, and an elephant out of a mouse. That is your character. Now you see a mouse as a mouse, and an elephant as an elephant.

Gurdjieff made a joke about this with Dr Aboulker. Solange then asked whether she should keep her present job, or take one which is more in keeping with her abilities. Gurdjieff said:

I would advise you to something quite new, unconnected to what you are doing now. The less you are satisfied with your job, the more you will be able to gain from it (sc. for your internal work). Start again, learning for your future. A new career will be better for you. In life, one can generally make all sorts of compromises, or arrange affairs differently, but in this work there are no compromises. It is necessary to change your exterior life and start everything again (72).

I might mention that Mr Adie remembered Gurdjieff’s advice “life begin from new.” See George Adie, 2nd edition, p.219. That completes the transcript of that meeting. I attach an updated table of contents and index.

 

Table of Contents

 

Untitled Introduction                                       9

A Caution from one who Participated in these Groups, Henri Tracol                 13

Remarks from the Editing Team                      15

 

Thursday 6 January                                         17

Tuesday 11 January                                        23

Thursday 13 January                                       25

Friday 14 January                                           33

Sunday 16 January                                          36

Tuesday 18 January                                        40

Thursday 20 January                                       46

Sunday 23 January                                          55

Friday 28 January                                           70

 

Index

age of preparation 24-25

aim 35, 52, distinguished from a means 43,

All and Everything 10

atmosphere 42

Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson 10, 13, 20

career 72

centres 53-54

children 51-52, 68-69

crow and stork (story) 49

de Hartmann, Thomas 9

de Salzmann, Jeanne 9, 13, 15, 42

de Salzmann, Michel 15

desalting 33, 42, 49

director 23-24

disharmony, 52

education 68-69

egoist 37

exercises 40, 43, 44

breathing 58-59

counting 31-32

“I Am” 53-54

prayer with three centres 42

substances for one’s face 36

feeling 31

God 51

groups 33

gluttony 65-66

Gurdjieff, G.I. 9-10, 13, 15

his groups 19-21

his writing 20

his languages 50-51

Gurdjieff Institute of Paris 15

honesty 37

“I Am” 29, 53-54

Idiots 17

keeping one’s word 37-39

laziness 60-61, 65-66

“ME” 58, 65

Meetings with Remarkable Men 9, 20

mother 51-52

movements 10

nature 24, 45

parents 70

prayer 42

preparing the future 24-25

relations with others 26-28

relaxation 32, 55, 60-61

remorse of conscience 28-30, 47-48, 71-72

repairing the past 24-25

role 37, 41

sacrifice 37, 54

satisfaction 25, 67-68

sensing 32, 42, 53, 58-59, 63-65

sincerity 45

small things 39

space (making space) 70

spontaneity 45

spirits 38

sympathies 27-28

thinking 26

time 34-35

tiredness 65

Tracol, Henri 13

2 comments

  1. Dear Fr. Azize,
    Thank you for making these precious transcripts available.
    I’m not sure I understood G. answer to Solage’s question about whether she should keep her present job. She thinks another job would be more in keeping with her abilities. This suggests that she is somewhat dissatisfied with her present job. In his answer, G. says that that “less you are satisfied with your job, the more you will be able to gain from it (sc. for your internal work).” Wouldn’t this mean, in Solange’s context, that she should keep her present job, precisely because she seems somewhat dissatisfied with it? Yet G. advises her to quit her job and find something new, unconnected to what she is doing now, which seems self-contradictory. Why is it “necessary to change your exterior life and start everything again”? This seems to go against what G. teaches elsewhere, and which generally characterizes he Fourth Way, namely that the Work can and should be done in normal life, that is, that one does not “necessarily have to change [one’s] exterior life and start everything again.” Forgive me if I am misunderstanding this. I would appreciate any clarification you can bring on this question, including suggestions for further readings (especially relevant for readers who might be considering a new career).
    Thank you again for your valuable work.

    1. Sure. As I see it, there is no contradiction, but different practical advice in different circumstances. For example, a karate trainer might tell one person he has to work on his kicks, and another that he has to work on sit ups and squats. Why? The first chap is already fit and now has to improve his kicks. The second is not yet strong enough, and has to strengthen the muscles used in kicking. The way I see it, the general rule is that even to begin you need favourable conditions (In Search, 48). So, for example, you may need to move to a place where there is a group, or change your hours of work so you can meet with a group.

      Even the work changes: at the beginning one must “study only” (p.108). At 48-49, he says: “the conditions of life in which a man is placed at the beginning of his work, in which, so to speak, the work finds him, are the best possible for him, at any rate at the beginning of the work. These conditions are natural for him. These conditions are the man himself, because a man’s life and its conditions correspond to what he is. But there comes a point where you have done enough work there, and now your work is to find something more suitable to your essence.” I think that Solange had done the work on her personality: now she could discern what corresponded to her essence. I hope that helps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *